Cardinal Donald Wuerl, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote a 12-paragraph article on Civil Dialogue that can be found on the Faithful Citizen webpage of the USCCB website and summarized on our website.  If read in a meditative manner, you may find one or more points in it that “hit home.” If this happens, stop at those points and reflect on them and on what you may or should want to do about this point.  Even if you don’t do anything now, it is a good thing that you stopped and reflected.  The first step to change for the better is being able to acknowledge that we need change.  With God’s grace, that change will come.

Cardinal Wuerl poses the question, “Why is it so important that we respect both our constitutional right to free speech and our moral obligation to not bear false witness against another? His answer is that we do not live alone but in relationship to others and must balance claiming our unique identity with supporting and nurturing the relationships that exist between ourselves and the rest of humanity.

A few of Cardinal Wuerl’s reminders and insights on rhetoric, trust and community are included below.  Hopefully, reading them will encourage you to read and reflect on the whole article.

  • “Locally, we have witnessed rhetorical hyperbole that, I believe, has crossed the line between reasoned discourse and irresponsible demagoguery. . . The defaming words speak more about political posturing than about reasoned discourse.”
  • “While each of us can claim a unique identity, we are, nonetheless, called to live out our lives in relationship with others -- in some form of community.”
  • “What does this have to do with toning down our rhetoric? Everything! No community, human or divine, political or religious, can exist without trust. . . To tamper with the truth or, worse yet, to pervert it, is to undermine the foundations of human community and to begin to cut the threads that weave us into a coherent human family.”
  • “We need to look at how we engage in discourse and how we live out our commitment to be a people of profound respect for the truth and our right to express our thoughts, opinions, positions -- always in love.”

Click here to read Cardinal Wuerl’s complete article, including his seven Ground Rules for Civil Dialogue.


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